Women’s Preview: UVM @ Northeastern, The Math Edition

Normally I wouldn’t do a preview since we just played NU like 3 weeks ago, but in here I will be showing how other results could affect where UVM is seeded in the playoffs.

We know we’re on the road round 1, we know 6th is our ceiling (that Merrimack loss two weeks ago knocked us out of contention for 5th), and we know the opponent will be either BC, Maine, Providence, or UNH.

My advice to the team is the same as last week: focus on what you can control, and that is in this case defeating the Northeastern Huskies, a team you swept three weeks ago at Gutterson. Everything else will take care of itself.

So without further ado, here is where UVM will place depending on results:

IF UVM WINS AND….

  • BU earns 3-4 points vs UNH: 7th
  • BU earns 1-2 points vs UNH: 6th
  • The UConn/Merrimack results will not matter as UVM has tiebreaker with UConn

IF UVM TIES AND…

  • BU earns more than 1 point and UConn doesn’t sweep: 7th
  • BU earns more than 1 point and UConn sweeps: 8th (BC round 1)
  • BU is swept by UNH and UConn sweeps: 7th
  • BU is swept by UNH and UConn fails to sweep: 6th

IF UVM LOSES AND…

  • BU earns any points and UConn earns 3+ points: 8th (BC round 1)
  • BU earns any points and UConn earns less than 3 points: 7th
  • BU is swept by UNH and UConn earns less than 3 points: 6th

Merrimack can’t catch UVM, as they are four points back and UVM holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

I’m pretty sure I’ve knocked out all the permutations and my moron maritime mental math is right.

Game is Friday at 7 and will be streamed on NU’s website.

Let’s get another W and some momentum heading into playoffs.

Go Cats.

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Women’s Hockey: A Tribute to the Seniors

I’m going to start this with some waxing nostalgic. I swear it comes back to this class.

September 26, 2014. My first time experiencing a UVM hockey game at Gutterson Fieldhouse. UVM women were playing McGill in a preseason game. We got crushed 4-0, but I enjoyed myself enough to give the women’s team some of my attention that I hadn’t the previous year when I was still at home finishing high school. Three weeks later I was at the home opener against RPI, a 2-2 tie. And from then on, I was hooked.

After tomorrow, I will never see a UVM women’s game at Gutterson again with a player the team that I saw against McGill and RPI (I should note that two players who were also freshmen that year, Molly Depew and Bella Webster, left early). The team that got me into caring about women’s hockey,  a sport I now write about for SB Nation. And thus I feel sort of a “bond” with this group, even though I’m willing to bet most of them have never spoken to me. (Although I know for a fact one of them has, haha.)

So let’s recognize those suiting up at Gutterson for the final time this afternoon.

#2 – Forward – Kourtney Menches

Career Totals: 131 GP, 9-15-24

Menches has made most of her career as a solid glue player despite her small 5’2″ frame. One that isn’t flashy, but will work hard and do dirty work to free up space for other players, and that can also kill penalties. After missing a chunk of the early season with an injury suffered in a preseason tie against the U of Montreal, Mench has turned into a solid two-way forward this year, with 12 points making up half of her career total. She is also the kind of student that you want as proof that you can excel on and off the ice, as a three-time Hockey East Top Scholar and All-Academic Team member, with one of those Top Scholars being as the highest GPA in the entire conference.

#10 – Forward – Mackenzie MacNeil

Career Totals: 136 GP, 17-20-37

If you hesitate for one second as a defender, MacNeil has you beat. A tireless worker and strong forechecker, MacNeil might be one of the fastest players in all of Hockey East, and scored a hat trick earlier this year against Ryerson in the Theresa Humes Invitational, an event that many have credited for UVM’s turnaround. According to a Cynic web article from January, which you can find here, she’s undecided on whether or not she wants to continue her hockey career and go pro. Like Menches, she’s also sharp in the classroom, as a member of the Hockey East All-Academic team last year.

#11 – Defender – Katherine Pate

Career Totals: 128 GP, 2-16-18

When you’re undersized, you need to bust your butt in order to make a hockey career work. Especially on defense. And Katherine Pate, listed at 5’2″, has done just that. Again, she’s not a world-beater, but she works hard and plays her role as a bottom-pairing defender quite well, and her smart positioning allows her to overcome her shorter stature. And with her, the run on good students continues, as she was also a member of the Hockey East All-Academic team in 2017.

#12 – Defender – Amanda Drobot

Career Totals: 141 GP, 5-38-43

Here’s something you probably didn’t realize: when UVM plays Game 2 of the Hockey East quarterfinals, whether it be in Orono or Providence or Chestnut Hill, Drobot will be making history as the UVM player with the most games played (Sarah Kelly played 144). As a freshman, she posted 17 points, then dropped to 5 as a sophomore as she was moved to forward. Moving back to the blueline for last season, she rebounded with 9 last year and 12 so far this year. The eye test lately has really been in her favor as I think she’s been playing some of the best hockey of her career; she’s moving the puck nicely, and her chemistry with defense partner Sammy Kolowrat is evident – I’ve liked that pairing since it was put together. If she wants to, I think she could go pro.

#27 – Defender – Taylor Willard (C)

Career Totals: 141 GP, 21-41-62

Three-time Hockey East All-Academic, two-time Hockey East All-Star, and last season was a New England Hockey Writers Association Division I All-Star. With all due respect, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call Willard the best defender in program history. 62 points is 6th in program history (barring an absolute explosion in the last two games and in the playoffs, I don’t think she’ll catch Victoria Andreakos’s 69), her 41 assists is tied for 4th, and has she proven to be a solid captain. And the thing is, she’s not just offensively gifted (she can be breathtaking when she rushes the puck up the ice), as she does not neglect her defensive duties. If she does elect to go pro – which she has the talent to do – some CWHL or NWHL team is going to be very lucky. And like Drobot, she will break the UVM games played record when the Cats take to the ice for their second WHEA quarterfinal game, having missed just two games during her UVM career (the games at Providence and UConn at the start of this season).

Thank you for all you’ve done for this program, seniors. On the ice, you’ve been terrific to watch grow from freshmen just establishing themselves to seniors with plenty of experience. From your first official game against then-#8 (and still existing) North Dakota at the Ralph to these last few weeks against Minnesota, BC, etc, you’ve helped this program make some serious strides and showed the potential of Vermont women’s hockey. Let’s make sure you go out on a high note and build on the foundation you’ve helped lay down.

RECAP: UVM (W) 1, UConn 0

It wasn’t a pretty game in front of 1,876 at Gutterson.

But in crunch time, it doesn’t have to be. All that matters is the two points.

And UVM got them.

In a grindfest that was very remniscent of a playoff game, the Catamounts and Huskies duked it out in Pack the Gut V, in front of just under 2,000 at Gutterson, with UVM eking out a tight 1-0 victory thanks to some amazing goaltending from Sydney Scobee.

Only one goal to talk about, and it came in the third. Alyssa Holmes with a lovely drop pass to Ali O’Leary, which she sniped past Annie Belanger. Simple, 1-0, Cats hold on.

Before I get to my extra thoughts…where does that leave Hockey East?

Seed Team Pts GR Opponents
6 Boston Univ. 17 2 at UNH, UNH
7 Vermont 17 2 UConn, at NU
8 UConn 15 3 at UVM, MC (2)
9 Merrimack 14 3 NU, at UConn (2)

Tiebreak info you need to know:

-UVM holds tiebreaker with UConn and Merrimack

-BU holds tiebreaker with UVM, UConn, and Merrimack

-Merrimack won their lone meeting with UConn earlier this season

Basically, I’m not going to do calculations, but I’m pretty sure a UVM win tomorrow clinches a tournament spot, as for 9th-place Merrimack to catch UVM (who would be 5 points clear), they’d have to beat UConn, which would then mean the Huskies can’t catch UVM. I don’t know, it’s confusing. But UVM can still grab that 6 seed, they’re just going to need some help from UNH to do so in addition to doing their job. As I said in the preview: focus on what you can control – i.e. win your own games – and the rest will take care of itself.

Anywho, now on to “some thoughts”:

-Saana Valkama didn’t point, but she was extremely active offensively and with the exception of O’Leary was probably the best player for UVM on offense.

-Some silly late penalties, some soft, others not. The PK – and especially Scobee – was phenomenal, much better than it was Sunday.

-Speaking of Scobee…if this is what she’s like in pressure situations, we have a money goalie that can steal playoff games, which is vital when you’re the underdog.

-Fun fact: This is UVM’s second win in Pack the Gut games, bringing their record to exactly .500. They defeated Union 4-0 in Pack the Gut II, lost to BC in the first PTG and UConn in the third, and tied UNH last year for a record of 2-2-1.

-As I said before the game…this is always a chance to showcase the program. The game wasn’t pretty, but people will watch winning teams. UVM is a school that has historically supported its women’s programs when they’re good (see: women’s basketball in its heyday). If even 10% of the people in attendance started going to the occasional game, that’s 187 new fans. That’s not small for women’s hockey.

Senior Day rematch tomorrow. Seniors tribute will be up in the AM.

Men’s Preview: UVM @ UNH (2x)

I mean, better late than never to get it together, right? RIGHT?

Yeah. Last weekend was great. (Other than the student section which was awful.) Let’s keep that going, shall we?

Much like the UVM women, it’s going to be an emotional weekend for the UNH men. Though it’s not their final home game, they are holding Coach Umile Weekend, as the Wildcats honor their longtime head coach, who is retiring after the season. No matter your opinion of Umile, you have to respect the job he did at UNH (up until recently) and Hockey East won’t be the same without him.

That said, what started as a year that looked like UNH would send their coach out on a high note has turned into a debacle, as the Wildcats went into not a slump, but a death spiral. After starting 5-1-1, UNH has gone 5-12-4, and have only won back-to-back games once since their five-game win streak to open the year.

They did make history last weekend, with Kohei Sato becoming the first Japanese player ever to score at the D1 men’s college level. So that’s something, I guess.

There are bright spots on this team, namely Max Gildon who will be in the Hockey East Rookie of the Year conversation. But the Wildcats have been awful in possession with a 46.3 CF%, and are largely being bailed out by Danny Tirone who has been solid in net for them (UNH is 10th nationally in save percentage). When you’re being outpossessed that badly, wins are rare to come by unless you get elite-level goaltending, and with how erratic Tirone has been throughout his career, their start to the season just wasn’t sustainable.

Three Things to Look Out For

  1. Lake Whitt. Always a factor in playing at UNH is that ginormously big rink. The size of Whittemore Center changes the game completely; you can’t rely so much on physicality, but rather speed and skill. If I’m Sneddon, my lineup is based entirely on skill. Keep the top line together, and even that Coughlin line that’s been stupendous of late…but other than that, you need to optimize your lineup according to the game that will be played. And it won’t be a meat grinder.
  2. Start Strong. If UNH isn’t winning after one period, they usually don’t – they’re 3-12-3 if they go into the break either trailing or tying. If the Catamounts can get off to a strong start, they’ll be in a good position to grab some W’s.
  3. Importance. UVM and UNH are tied for the 8th spot in Hockey East and home ice in the Octofinals. If this weekend ends in a tie and a win or a sweep, the team that won will get a vital tiebreaker. In my opinion, UVM needs this badly, especially with 4 games coming up against a great Northeastern team and a white-hot Boston University.

Games are Friday and Saturday at 7. UNH streams on ESPN3 so that’s where it’ll be.

Just keep winning. Big Cats Gotta Eat.

Go Cat(amount)s.

Women’s Preview: UConn @ UVM (2x) – PACK THE GUT!

It’s finally here. My favorite day of the UVM women’s hockey season. Pack the Gut.

I don’t think even Danielle Rancourt thought Pack the Gut would be this consistently big when she first pitched it in 2013 after doing volunteer work for Meals on Wheels. But here we are, at Pack the Gut V, coming off a year in which we broke our own attendance record.

And it’s a huge chance to grow the program and showcase the quality of UVM women’s hockey. If we match last season’s 2,136, and even 10% of the attendees grow interested in the program and start to follow them and attend games, that’s over 200 new fans of UVM women’s hockey.

And it’s not like these are dead-rubber games; these are easily the two biggest games of the season, especially after falling to Merrimack on Sunday. UVM and UConn are tied for 7th in the standings on 15 points with the Huskies having a game in hand, and Merrimack is lurking just behind with 14 and two games next weekend in Storrs. The Cats do still have a chance at 6th as BU is on 17 points and UVM has a game in hand, but now UVM needs to win their game in hand and outdo BU’s final two conference results as the Terriers hold the tiebreaker. My advice to the team is what Plumer said over the Montreal trip: focus on yourselves. The rest will take care of itself. Just do what you need to do: win.

And UConn comes into this series on a four-game winning streak, including a sweep of Maine and an OT win over Providence. Annie Belanger has had another terrific season in goal with a .930 SV%, while freshman Natalie Snodgrass has been fire with 30 points in her first season in the Nutmeg State.

Three Things to Look Out For

  1. Emotional Energy. Gotta give a shoutout to the athletic department here. Scheduling Pack the Gut, Alumnae Weekend, and Senior Day on the same weekend is pretty rad. Expect the Cats to feed off the home crowd’s energy on Friday and the sheer emotion of Senior Day on Saturday. (Speaking of Senior Day: our annual Tribute to the Seniors will be up after the game on Friday.)
  2. Potential for Free Hockey. UConn has played 30 games so far this year. 12 of them have gone to OT. (UConn is 3-1-8 in OT games.) OT and the already high stakes of these games will really crank up the heat. These will be playoff-intensity games and the margins are slim.
  3. Kill Your Penalties. UVM’s special teams struggled big time against Merrimack, but their PK is going to have to be much better against UConn’s PP which clocks in at over 20%, top-10 amongst D1 teams.

Games are Friday at 7 and Saturday at 4 at Gutterson and on CatamounTV. But you should be at Gutterson Friday and help Pack the Gut and give the team a boost.

BIG BIG BIG games. Let’s grab some W’s.

Big Cats Gotta Eat.

Go Cats.

Women’s Preview: Merrimack @ UVM

Super Bowl? Pfft, who needs it. (I don’t really care for the NFL, so I’ll probably spend the game playing some video games or doing homework after I write the recap for this game.)

HUGE HUGE HUGE win at BU last night. That’s a vital win, and a huge 3 game win streak puts destiny firmly in the Catamounts’ hands. Also, the Cats conclude that 9-game gut-check at 4-4-1. That’s pretty solid, and a bounce here or there and they suddenly have a winning record.

Also, quick congrats to Ève-Audrey Picard on making history: per CatamounTV’s Nich Hall, she is the first UVM women’s player ever to score hat tricks in consecutive games, and only the second with three hat tricks in one season. The previous one was Allie Knowles in 1995-96…before the program was elevated to varsity.

That’s not to say the rest of the season isn’t a gut-check though – it’s crunch time. The Cats have proven that they can skate with the best. Now it’s time to take out the teams below them in the standings and get a solid platform for the Hockey East tournament.

This is what positions 5-9 in HE look like:

Team Points Games Left Opponents
Northeastern 20 3 @MC, UVM, @PC
Boston University 17 2 UNH, @UNH
Vermont 15 4 MC, UConn (2), @NU
UConn 13 5 PC, @UVM (2), MC (2)
Merrimack 12 4 @UVM, NU, @UConn (2)

The Cats currently sit 7th, but have 2 games in hand on 6th place BU; win both, and you’re suddenly ahead by two points. They also have an outside shot at 5th if they continue to grab W’s and get some other results to roll their way.

But first….let’s put some space between us and the no-tourney zone. Which is currently occupied by the Merrimack Warriors, 3 points behind UVM with the same amount of games played. They’re coming off a shock 4-1 crunching of a terrific Providence side at Schneider Arena, and will be coming in on a high.

The Cats swept the Warriors earlier this season at Lawler Rink by scores of 3-0 and 2-1. But with the form and recent surprise results these teams have had (UVM sweeping NU and beating Minnesota and BU; Merrimack beating Maine at Alfond and Providence at Schneider), this game is going to be a battle, especially with what’s on the line. And Mack has come up huge in high-stakes games at Gutterson before – you’ll remember that on the last day of the season, Léa-Kristine Demers stopped 48 to give Merrimack the win that got them into the Hockey East tournament for the very first time.

The confidence is flowing in the Cats right now, you’ve shown you can compete with the biggest and best programs in the nation, and now you control your destiny with the remaining schedule being teams near you in the standings.

Three Things to Look Out For

  1. Rae of Sunshine. Katelyn Rae has more goals than anyone else on Merrimack has points. Her 19 goals is 35% of Merrimack’s scoring tally this year. If the Cats can do to her what they did to Victoria Bach last night and Daryl Watts a few weeks ago, Merrimack really has nothing going offensively.
  2. Not-So-Special Teams. Of the true D1 teams, Merrimack has the worst power play (7.3%) and PK (73.4%), with the PP only ahead of Post and the PK ahead of Post and St. Michael’s in the nation. UVM’s special teams have played solid lately (in the last two games, 3 power play goals and a shorty), so if they keep doing what they’re doing, they can find success Sunday.
  3. Points Get Points. Remember back to the sweep at Lawler? UVM’s best weapon was getting traffic in front and letting it rip from the point. Four of their five goals that weekend came in that fashion, with the fifth being an empty netter. They did this well against Northeastern last weekend, and it’s another case of “keep doing what you’re doing and good things happen.”

Game is Sunday at 1pm at Gutterson and on CatamounTV.

Another big two points on the line.

Go Cats.

Recap: UVM (M) 2, PC 2 (OT)

I mean…I guess I’ll take it.

This game played exactly how I figured it would. PC dominated possession – CHN says shot attempts were 79-45 in favor of the Friars – but the Cats did get some offense going on the counter. They had a couple looks in the first (a Bryce Misley shorthanded breakaway stuck out to me), and got a pair on the counter in the second.

First goal comes in the second. Conor O’Neil springs Derek Lodermeier on a breakaway, first shot is saved, but Lodermeier stays with it and bangs the rebound past Hayden Hawkey. 1-0 UVM, completely against the run of play (I think the shots were something like 21-5 at that point).

Second goal comes against the run of play as well and…well…I have no words. Liam Coughlin scored what will probably go down as the Men’s Hockey Goal of the Year when I do end-of-year awards on here (something I didn’t do last year, but will do this year):

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Just…watch. Sorry for the cursor and stuff, I was playing it from a streamable I made with the highlight pack (shoutout CatamounTV). Outmuscles Vincent Desharnais to get to the puck, then embarrasses Jacob Bryson before beating Hayden Hawkey down low.

But Providence, as good teams do, dug deep and came back in the third. They pull their first one back on a delayed penalty, with Brian Pinho shuffling his rebound across to Kasper Björkqvist, who beat Stefanos Lekkas (who was PHENOMENAL tonight, I must add).

Second goal comes on a power play, and another rebound. Lekkas made the initial stop on Brandon Duhaime, and Jake Massie does a good job tying him up and preventing him from getting to the rebound. Unfortunately, Scott Conway does get the rebound, and buries it. Tie game.

Some thoughts:

-As I said…Stef Lekkas was unreal tonight. 44 saves, a lot of tough ones. Maybe deserves a breather tomorrow night just for how much he had to work tonight.

-SMH @ the student section. Half of them bailed after the second period. Not to mention it was largely empty to begin with, although that’ll happen with a losing season.

-Not a lot of odd-man rushes or chances in transition for PC, at least that I can remember off the top of my head. They ran the possession game, the Cats ran the counter.

-Speaking of the counter, would like to see Dzhioshvili in tomorrow. His speed and tenacity on the forecheck could be a huge asset in this kind of game.

-One of the best periods the Cats have played all year, the second, followed by one of the worst, the third.

-Interesting note: PC got a LOT of shot generation from their blueline. Ben Mirageas and Jacob Bryson combined out-shot-attempted the entire UVM blueline. Not a knock on the blueline, just an observation.

-UMass lost, UNH tied, so UVM jumps the Minutemen and remains tied with UNH for the 8th spot – home ice in the Octofinals. UVM securing home ice is going to be tricky given their remaining schedule (two at Lake Whitt against UNH, two at Agganis against a resurgent BU, and two at home to a very good Northeastern side), but if they can get some surprise results, it’s still on the table. I think that’d be a good building block for next season seeing as UVM had dug itself such a deep hole.

Rematch tomorrow.

Women’s Preview: UVM @ BU

What a weekend for the women last weekend! That Saturday game is safely in my top-5 games I’ve ever seen at the Gutt – constant excitement capped off by a last-minute, game-winning, hat-trick-completing goal for the home side. The Cats have momentum and confidence, and much of the rest of their schedule is against teams around them in the standings.

That includes this one, the final game of that 9-game gut check I’ve been talking about lately, in which the Cats have gone 3-4-1 and can end this at .500 if they grab a W at Walter Brown Arena. When BU came to Gutterson, the Cats had just upset Clarkson…and then BU came and cleaned out UVM by a combined score of 10-2. Victoria Bach composed an incredible symphony of a weekend with 5 goals. That said, both of these teams are coming in hot after sweeps, as BU clotheslined Merrimack last weekend. This is also a HUGE game in the Hockey East standings – BU sits four points ahead of the Catamounts in the Hockey East standings, with UVM holding two games in hand. If the Catamounts win, they’ll be in a good position to move up in the standings to the 6th seed.

Three Things to Look Out For

  1. Compose Your Defense. Okay, I’ll stop with the music puns… Two weeks ago, UVM basically kept the nation’s leading scorer, Daryl Watts, fairly silent at BC (with her only posting an assist). Now they face the #3 scorer in the nation in Bach, who balled out against the Cats in November and is coming off a seven-point weekend against Merrimack. If they can slow her and sidekick Rebecca Leslie down, BU’s offense becomes a bit more predictable.
  2. Thin Margins. BU has not won a game all season in which they went into an intermission trailing (0-7-2 after both one and two periods), and they’re 0-6 in one-goal games. If the Cats can take the advantage into the locker room, they have a strong chance of taking home at least a point.
  3. Small Rink. All four of UVM’s road wins have come on the 200×85 ice surface (Ridder at Minnesota, Lawler at Merrimack, and Freitas at UConn). The smaller rink plays into one thing this team is really good at – getting traffic in front and utilizing the strong shots from the point from players like Sammy Kolowrat, Taylor Willard, and Daria O’Neill. Walter Brown Arena, unlike the BU men’s rink at Agganis, is also a 200×85. Adjusting to various ice sizes is one of the more fascinating things I see in college hockey, so it’ll be interesting to see if UVM can grab another W on the NHL-sized rink.

Game is Friday at 7pm, BU has live streaming on their site for free.

MASSIVE two points on the line.

Go Cats.

Merrimack preview will be up Saturday if I have time (OL group interview and men’s hockey will take up most of my day).

Men’s Preview: #8 Providence @ UVM (2x)

A win streak! UVM has gone from dead last in HE by a mile to a tie for 8th place – aka, home ice in the Octofinals. (They trail UMass on a tiebreaker.) A strong finish can provide a good foundation for next season. Problem is, three of our last four series come against top-4 HE sides. It’ll be tough, but who knows? They surprised the crap outta me by sweeping Mack at Lawler, so maybe they’ll surprise me further. I didn’t catch either game (I don’t have a TV so I couldn’t watch the NESN game), but it seems like the confidence is going again.

Which is good, because they’ll need that confidence this weekend. Hockey East has largely sucked this year, but the Providence Friars have been their usual solid self under a top-5 coach in Nate Leaman. Sitting at 17-8-3 and 9th in the Pairwise, Providence prides itself on its defense, which ranks 8th in the nation in goals against average, and its ability to control games – they are fourth in the nation in Corsi For % (a stat I use a lot – it’s just shot attempts for / shot attempts against). The attack, led by Erik Foley’s 30 points, is also pretty solid, with 10 players in double-figure points and the 15th most goals-for-per game. The Cats need to keep up their play from last weekend, perhaps even improve it, because scoring chances will be hard to come by.

Three Things to Look Out For

  1. Gotta Go Fast. In my opinion, the biggest strength of this UVM side is its speed. With Providence likely controlling the games, UVM will need to rely on the counter-attack for its scoring opportunities, which means that that speed is going to be critical.
  2. Go Away Buccigross. Hayden Hawkey can be a solid goaltender, but he might be the most inconsistent goalie in the conference. He has a .913 SV% right now, but which Hawkey shows up against UVM – the one that shut out BU and Maine and stopped 40 against Merrimack, or the one that gave up 4 goals on 16 shots to a bad RIT team?
  3. Standings Scuffle. If Providence sweeps, they could go top of HE if results elsewhere go their way. That has to have Leaman’s crew fired up. As for UVM, they need to get points to potentially sneak in the back door and snag a home-ice Octofinals series. If they even get a split this weekend, next weekend’s series in Durham against UNH will be huge.

Games are Friday and Saturday at 7 on CatamounTV.

It’s crunch time. Big Cats gotta eat.

Go Cats.

Recap: UVM (W) 5, Northeastern 2

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while since I did a recap. I only really do those for games I’m at, and I’ve not had a working computer lately…

This was a complete 60-minute performance. The defense was solid; Sydney Scobee didn’t have to face very many high-danger chances. The offense took its chances, and Scobee made the necessary saves. So let’s go through this, goal-by-goal.

First goal kinda comes off a lucky bounce, now that I see it on replay. In real time I thought Mackenzie MacNeil had a sick spinning feed, but it turns out it hit the skate of a Husky defender, and of course it was none other than Ève-Audrey Picard who spun and scored on one knee to put UVM up 1-0.

Northeastern ties it up on a bit of a knuckleball from the point. Lauren Kelly took the shot, I thought it was tipped in real time, but it looks like it goes in clean on the replay. They utilized heavy traffic in front of Scobee – and traffic in front or deflections in front are going to be a recurring theme here.

Second UVM goal comes on the power play through a deflection. Taylor Willard with a point shot, looks from the replay like it took a dip in front that Kourtney Menches was able to tip past Brittany Bugalski, giving UVM a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Picard got her second not too long after that. Katherine Pate takes a shot from the point that’s headed wide, but Picard jumps on it and tips it past Bugalski for an insurance goal.

The game broke open not too long after that with another UVM power play goal. Sammy Kolowrat fires one, again utilizing traffic in front. That beats Bugalski, and her night is done, in comes Aerin Frankel.

Northeastern did pull one back in the third on the PP. Taytum Clairmont skates into the high slot, uses some traffic in front as a screen, and rips one past Scobee.

And then the final UVM goal was an empty netter by Mackenzie MacNeil.

Some thoughts:

  • I hope Katherine Pate is okay, you could hear her coughing as she came off the ice with what appeared to be a neck/throat injury. I thought she played well tonight.
  • One thing I’ve noticed throughout the year – really starting with the Merrimack series – is that this team can really utilize those shots from the point if they get traffic in front. Kolowrat, Willard, O’Neill, Drobot, and Flaherty (who did not play tonight) can all really rip it from the point.
  • Speaking of Drobot, she has been playing some of her best hockey of her career since the break, IMO. She looks a lot more confident with the puck.
  • On the topic of confidence…you can feel it flowing right now. Players trying dangles and moves that they wouldn’t have before the break. Kristina Shanahan had a few nice moves out there.
  • Ève-Audrey Picard was literally everywhere, with her 3 points in addition to some BIG defensive plays (including a poke to get the puck out of the zone with the score 4-2 and NU having pulled the goalie).
  • UVM leapfrogs Merrimack into 7th in Hockey East with the W tonight. They’re 4 back of sixth-place BU with two games in hand and a matchup at Walter Brown next Friday.
  • Cats are now 2-4-1 on that 9-game “gut check.” Going .500 is a realistic possibility, and against that level of strength of schedule, that would be a solid result for a young, developing team.

Rematch tomorrow at 4pm. Should be interesting.